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Issue No. 356 21 December 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

The End
In vintage Workers Online fashion we have detected a minor, but telling, factual error in last week’s missive/suicide note. It’s not a seven year itch – this is, in fact, the end of an eight year project.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: The Terminator
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson looks back on the highs and lows of a year when the battle lines were drawn.

Industrial: Vive La Resistance
Jim Marr glances back through a year of news and discovers plenty of reason for optimism…

Unions: Breaking News
The web offered new ways of covering unions issues. Here’s ten ways Workers Online tried to do things differently.

History: Seven Deadly Sins
Looking back on our annual year-ender editorials gives a nice overview of the journey we have taken.

Economics: Back to the Future
Political economist Frank Stilwell looks back at a year that saw the passing of the drivers of two strains of economic thought.

Politics: Organising and Organisations
Organising for unionists can mean overcoming the “union”. The “rolling of the right” by the BLF rank and file shows the power of workers united to defeat the power of bosses and certain union bosses.

International: Web Retrospective
Unions and the web – What's changed in the last seven years? The short answer is – everything and nothing, wrties Eric Lee

Review: Shock Therapy
Unreconstructed Kazakhi journalist Borat is unleashed on the ‘US and A’ offending everyone – except the bigots.

N E W S

 High Flyers Go For Gold

 Hospital Staff Prescribe Radical Surgery

 Holland Goes Dutch on Safety

 New Thinking to Transport Sydney

 Check Mate - Track Your Personal Info

 WorkChoices on a Trolley

 See No Evil, OEA

 Feltex Carpets PM's Fibs

 Workers Blood on the Walls

 Lift For Unfair Dismissal Campaign

 No Discrimination on Choice

 Vanstone Opens New Meat Market

 Activists' Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Future
So Where to Now?
Amanda Tattersall outlines her plans for Working NSW and the challenge of connecting research, communications and campaigning.

Obituary
Gone But Not Forgotten
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1915-2006). His memory is still being honoured, writes Jim Marr

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favourite politician bids adieu and hangs up his chestnuts.

L E T T E R S
 Hit For Six
 Kind Words
 Sorely Missed
 All the Best
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Piers Watch

They Call Me Bruce


And the tool of the Millennia goes to the prince of postmodernism, John Howard.

*****

There once was a time Monty Python was considered satire, but listen to the Bruce skit today and you could be forgiven for thinking it's a recording of the cabinet room.

One of the jokes is that everyone in Australia is called Bruce. The conversation goes thus:

"G'day Bruce!"

"Oh, Hello Bruce!"

"How are you, Bruce?"

"A bit crook, Bruce."

"Where's Bruce?"

"He's not 'ere, Bruce."

The Bruces, who comprise the philosophy department of the University of Woolloomooloo, are introduced to the new political science lecturer.

Michael, a "pommy bastard", will be teaching "Machiavelli, Bentham, Locke, Hobbes, Sutcliffe, Bradman, Lindwall, Miller, Hassett and Benaud".

"Mind if we call you Bruce to keep it clear?" says one of the Bruces.

One can imagine this is how Howard and his cronies discuss multicultural policy, if they discuss it at all.

Similarly, Howard's values test might go along the lines of the Bruces' rules for the faculty:

"Rule one: no poofters.

"Rule two: no member of the faculty is to maltreat the Abos in any way at all - if there's anybody watching.

"Rule three: no poofters.

"Rule four: now this term, I don't want to catch anybody not drinking.

"Rule five: no poofters."

You get the point.

Many make out that, Howard longs for a time when Australia was a simpler place - when blokes were blokes and sheilas were sheilas, and you'd stand up to God Save the Queen at the pictures before the feature.

The Toolshed disagrees. It would be too simplistic to think Howard actually believes in this nonsense.

Howard is in fact a post-modern artist and Australia is his canvas.

When he's finally done, I'm sure the critics will rave about his ability to combine elements of kitsch Australiana with a 19th century workplace.

We can see the reviews now:

"The concept of mateship, evoking ideas of community and togetherness is ambitiously ostentatious, with the bold khaki brushstrokes taking up much of the foreground.

"Yet this mono-colour tribute to Pro Hart acts as a diversion to what is happening in the background, which owes much to the harsh reality of Victorian England, or perhaps the inside of a Wal-Mart store."

Think about the way Howard approaches truth - the never, ever GST, the interest rate promise, children overboard and the AWB scandal (oh sorry, one of his mates cleared him of that one).

Only a dyed-in-the-wool post-modernist could take such a relative approach to the truth.

Similarly, his education policy, that schools should teach facts instead of mushy post-modernism is so rich with irony that it is straight from a post-modernists pallet.

And surely the most poignant example of his passion for post-modernism is simultaneously claiming to be the workers best friend while taking away their penalty rates, holiday rates, overtime, public holidays, weekends, minimum award rates, two weeks worth of holidays for an undefined "trade in", job security etc etc.

We can only hope the Pro Hart of politics is nearly finito.

We just feel sorry for the cleaning woman.



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